Real-world treatment patterns, clinical outcomes, and health care resource utilization in advanced unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma.
Background: The incidence of advanced unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is increasing in several developed countries and the prognosis of advanced HCC remains poor. Real-world evidence of treatment patterns and patient outcomes can highlight the unmet clinical need within this population. Methods: We conducted a retrospective population-based cohort study of advanced unresectable HCC patients diagnosed in Alberta, Canada between 2008-2018 using electronic medical records and administrative claims data. A chart review was conducted among patients treated with systemic therapy to capture additional treatment information that is not available in the administrative data. The objectives of this study were to describe the treatment patterns, overall survival, and healthcare resource utilization of advanced HCC patients. Results: A total of 1,297 advanced HCC patients were included in this study, of which 555 (42.8%) were recurrent cases and the remainder were advanced unresectable cases at diagnosis. Median age at diagnosis was 64 (range: 21-94) and 82.1% were men. Only 274 patients (21.1%) received first-line systemic therapy and of those 32 patients (11.7%) initiated second-line therapy. Nearly all of the patients treated with systemic therapy received sorafenib (> 96.4%) in first-line and over half of these patients (55.8%) had a dose reduction during the course of treatment. Patients who received systemic therapy had considerably higher median overall survival (12.23 months; 95% CI: 10.72-14.10) compared to patients not treated with systemic therapy (2.66 months; 95% CI: 2.33-3.12; log-rank p-value < 0.001). Among patients who received first-line systemic therapy, the 2-year and 5-year survival rates were 17.9% (95% CI: 13.7-23.4) and 3.9% (95% CI: 1.8-8.6), respectively. Among patients treated with systemic therapy, overall survival was highest for recurrent cases, patients with Child-Pugh A, patients with hepatitis C virus or multiple known HCC risk factors, and for recurrent patients who received transarterial chemoembolization and ablation (separate procedures) in early stage (log-rank: p < 0.05). No significant differences in survival were observed for dose reduction in first-line therapy, age group, sex, the presence of cirrhosis, or the presence of metastatic disease (log-rank: p > 0.05). Among patients that received first-line systemic therapy, the average time spent in hospital was 9, 9, and 8 days per patient within years 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Conclusions: In a Canadian real-world setting, patients who received systemic therapy had considerably greater survival than those who did not, but the initiation rate was low and dose reductions were common. The low uptake of systemic therapy and the modest survival gains highlight the importance of earlier diagnosis and the need for novel and more effective first-line therapies.